After he and his teammate Jorge Lorenzo had looked well in control of proceedings after the first day of practice at Brno, Valentino Rossi warned the media against drawing premature conclusions. "I think it's just Friday, it's a long way to Sunday," he said. We in the media ignored his warnings, of course, and painted a technicolor picture of a race where the Movistar Yamaha riders took back a hefty bunch of points from Marc Márquez, reigniting the championship.
Then Saturday happened, and Valentino Rossi turned out to be right again (and not for the first time, I might add). Friday had been just Friday. It was indeed still a long way to Sunday. Saturday, a stepping stone on the way to Sunday, helped turn a lot of things around. Jorge Lorenzo is still fast. So is Valentino Rossi, though not quite as fast as he had hoped. Andrea Iannone is a genuine threat for the podium, or even his second win in a row. Maverick Viñales could still get up front and complicate things, though he has a hill to climb after a problem with the brakes saw him qualify on the third row of the grid.
But any illusions the Movistar Yamaha men had of clawing back points from Marc Márquez will have to be shelved. Not only will the Repsol Honda rider start from pole on Sunday, but he also has the race pace which was missing on Friday. All thanks to a breathtaking lap of Brno, and a large set of wings which helped cure some of the worst problems with the Honda RC213V.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Brno:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Brno:
Probably the most indicative session of the weekend got started as predicted, with Andrea Iannone and Jorge Lorenzo taking turns at the top and confirming themselves as the main contenders for Sunday’s race. Still, the Italian couldn’t resist revisiting the gravel trap, this time keep it vertical without a worry. The fight ended with the Spaniard on top by a slender two thousands of a second.
The King of Sector 2 finished third, Marc Marquez ending the session with a few mid 1:56s, a tenth of a second off the leader. Valentino Rossi followed him in the timesheets, two tenths off Marquez and one tenth ahead of Maverick Vinales, the trio appearing to be the main challengers for Lorenzo and Iannone.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Brno:
The intermediate class evened up the balance of track incidents that didn’t quite happen in the other two classes. While Lorenzo Baldassarri was flying at the front with the first 2:01 time of the weekend, Tom Luthi’s Kalex was flying over the barrier at turn eleven, in a fast and dangerous incident that made the Swiss rider lose the rest of the session while still second on the timesheets.
His main rival wasn’t much luckier, Baldassarri taking his turn through the gravel at turn fourteen and writing off his bike with twenty minutes to go. His early time proved to be good enough to lead the session until the end. Both riders walked off gingerly but unharmed.
The sun still didn’t receive its appearance fee for Brno, with the circuit seeing similar conditions to Friday but also a spectacular lap from a predictably smooth Jorge Lorenzo, the reigning world champion beating his own circuit record set last year.
Andrea Iannone had his own moment in the spotlight ten minutes into the session, when the Italian went sightseeing along the full length of the turn thirteen gravel trap, dropping winglets like coins in a wishing well. The Ducati rider had plenty of time to recover and finish second but seven tenths off the leader.
The Moto3 class opened Saturday’s proceedings with track conditions similar to FP2, twenty-one degrees and some clouds looming over the action. Seemingly perfect conditions for Brad Binder to post the first (and only) 2:07 time of the weekend, a tenth off the circuit record and six tenths ahead of the rest of the grid.
The rest of the top five was a familiar view until the final minutes, when several riders made quite a massive jump from the back of the timesheets. Jorge Martin was second, always there or thereabouts, while Hiroki Ono in third improved twenty-one places in the final minutes of the session.